Shepherds and Kings
July 20, 2021

1. “Shepherds” are royal, not priestly figures (Psalm 80:1). Moses, Joshua, and David are called shepherds, but not Aaron (Exodus 32:34 with Psalm 23:3; Numbers 27:17; Psalm 78:71-72; cf. Psalm 77:20). The Good Shepherd’s rod is iron (Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15; cf. Psalm 2:7-9).

2. “Pastor” = “shepherd.” In the New Testament, “pastor” translates poimen, “shepherd” (Ephesians 4:11), and the verb form, poimaino, is usually translated as “shepherd” (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2).

3. Combining #1 and #2, we conclude: While Christian pastors are priests because every Christian is a priest, what distinguishes a pastor from others isn’t a heightening of priestly office. The pastorate is a royal office.

4. This has liturgical import. As the body of the Heavenly Priest, the church is a priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-10). The pastor assumes the role of David and Solomon, kings who facilitated priests in their sacrificial worship.

Shepherds feed and water their flocks (Psalm 23; cf. Genesis 24:14, 18-19; Exodus 2:16-22), and kings lead their people to fertile land and distribute its fruit (cf. 2 Samuel 6:18-19). Pastors preside at the Lord’s Table as shepherd-kings.

5. As the word of the king directs the kingdom, so the word of the pastor directs the church. Pastors don’t plead, but, like Jesus and in His name, teach with authority. Perhaps, like kings, pastors should speak from thrones – as ancient bishops did. Perhaps they should wear crowns, as a sign of royal glory (cf. Numbers 27:20).

6. Every Christian is a king. Pastors rule a company of kings, exercising authority so each Christian can exercise authority over himself and his realm. Pastor-kings make kings.

7. Kings build temples (1 Kings 6-8; cf. Exodus 31:1-5; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15) and found cities. Church planters are temple and city-founders, and pastors assemble living stones to construct the house of God and keep it in good repair.

8. Shepherd-kings “go in and out” (Numbers 27:15-23; 2 Chronicles 1:10), that is, they organize and lead military expeditions and return to celebrate victories. Pastors command regiments of the church militant.

9. Like all good kings, pastors protect the weak and seek those who go AWOL (Jeremiah 23:1-8; Ezekiel 34). In the Bible, care for the faltering isn’t therapeutic, but royal.

10. We misrepresent church-state relations when we think of them merely as priest-king relations. Rather, a meeting of pastor and President is a meeting of two kings, one of whom is directly ordained to represent the King of heaven.

Righteous pastors are as the light of the morning when sun rises (2 Samuel 23:1-7), like rain on mown grass (Psalm 72).

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